Family judges are sadly familiar with cases in which divorcees seek to conceal their assets from their ex-partners. In one striking ‘big money’ case, the High Court found that a business tycoon had engaged in an elaborate and ruthless charade in a bid to defeat his ex-wife’s claim to a £27 million capital award.
During their six-year marriage, the couple had three sons and lived a life of luxury on the husband’s stellar earnings in the commercial airline leasing business. However, since their separation, he claimed to have endured financial ruin and that a day of reckoning with his creditors was fast approaching.
The Court found that the husband had entered into a series of sophisticated financial arrangements in order to muddy the waters. The appearance he gave of being in a state of inextricable penury was the result of a stage-managed charade which had been pursued with no regard to cost. The Court was confident that the husband could find his way out of his apparent financial impasse and could re-establish his access to substantial capital and income when the time was ripe.
The ex-wife did not win on every issue in the case and in particular failed to establish a right to share of a classic car collection worth about £20 million. However, the Court ordered the husband to pay her £120,000 a year in maintenance pending a final assessment of the capital sum to which she was entitled.